PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed he persuaded outgoing Zambian President Edgar Lungu to concede defeat after the August 12 elections.
After the presidential poll winner had been declared, Lungu appeared reluctant to make way for Hakainde Hichilema following the embarrassing defeat.
The incumbent claimed the elections were not free and fair, citing alleged political violence in three provinces.
According to President Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba, the Zimbabwean leader claimed credit for Zambia’s smooth transfer of power when he addressed his supporters in the eastern border town of Mutare on Thursday.
“Upon his arrival, His Excellency briefed his supporters on the just ended (Southern African Development Communality) SADC meeting,” Charamba said on Twitter.
“He, for the first time, disclosed that he phoned the outgoing Zambian President Edgar Lungu to persuade him to make way for the winner, president-elect Hichilema, to secure the peace in the country and region.”
“Turning to opposition members who dream of the same happening in Zimbabwe, the Zanu PF leader urged such dreamers to come back to their senses.”
But responding in an online portal for the Lusaka Times, ordinary Zambians dismissed the claims saying Lungu had no option other than to concede. Many Zambians said Lungu conceded because he realized the margin of his loss was too big to be justified by any type of rigging. Below are some of the responses by Zambians.
Others opined that if anyone talked Lungu into conceding, it must have been former Zambian President Rupiah Banda. Lungu met Banda, Hichilema, former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and other leaders at Banda’s home shortly before he conceded defeat. Kikwete was head of the Commonwealth Elections Observer Team to Lusaka last week.
Hichilema is a close associate of Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, a relationship their political parties attest to.
The outcome of the Zambian presidential election has created excitement in Zimbabwe, with opposition activists saying they are inspired to replicate the outcome when the country holds its election in 2023.
At the weekend, Lungu issued a statement saying violence against supporters of his ruling Patriotic Front (PF) in some provinces rendered the polls “not free and fair”.
Hichilema, a wealthy businessman, won with a landslide and will take the oath of office on Tuesday.